Sunday, July 4, 2010

So Much Unfinished Business

I am sitting on the porch at the river house in Belhaven, thinking back to the many moments Ed and I spent down here dreaming of the idea of a Hudson. The first was in October 2004—Ed and I had just begun dating when he brought me down here for the first time during our fall break. Our very first picture together is of him kissing my cheek as we stood down at the end of the dock just before we left to come back home. He may not have known it yet, but I already knew that I would spend the rest of my life with him and, if we were lucky, raise children with him. Seventeen months later, he proposed in that exact same spot. Six months after that, we were married in the yard a few hundred feet from there—we spoke unforgettable vows to each other and created a new family. Two years and two months later, in November 2008, we brought Hudson here for the first and only time, when I was 36.5 weeks pregnant with her. We did not come again until two weeks after she died. I have truly mixed feelings about that last fact—I can’t decide if I feel less sad here because she’s never been here or even sadder because she’s never been here.

We spent this past weekend with my family at my dad’s house in Pittsboro. All my siblings were there, along with about half of their children. While it was wonderful to be with them again for the first time since Hudson’s memorial services, I had somehow not anticipated how difficult that first family gathering without her would be. Her absence was so terribly conspicuous. My hands were so terribly idle. Seven of my nieces and nephews were there, and as I watched them and played with them, I just couldn’t stop thinking about all the things Hudson and I will never do together. I will never get to brush the tangles out of her hair and then braid it, like I did for my niece Rachel yesterday. I will never get to help her learn to float on her back in the water, like I did for my niece Rebekah. I will never get to praise her for learning to use the potty, like I did my niece Emma. Mommy, Interrupted.

As I packed to head down to NC for this weekend, I grabbed my knitting bag on a whim. In it was the half-finished baby blanket I began knitting for Hudson before she was born. It is lime green—because we didn’t know what we were having and because it matched the sea creature theme we had picked for the nursery—and it is covered with patterned squares. It was supposed to be an “8-hour Baby Blanket”—I picked it figuring I would have no problem finishing it before she was born. But I was a beginning knitter, the pattern was more complicated than I realized, and “8 hours” is just not 8 hours when you work at a law firm. I was probably still working on it during that last trip to Belhaven just 16 short days before she came into the world. And, well, you can imagine the rest.

I’m sitting here on the porch at Belhaven, finishing the blanket. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but for some reason, I just feel like I need to finish it. For her. For me. For us. God, I miss her so much.

P.S.  If you post comments and are inclined to leave your name, leave a last initial, too, if you don't mind.  I'm amazed at how many people I know with the same first names.  Thanks.


  1. I'm glad you are finishing the blanket, Mandy. It is a reminder of the incredible joy you felt when Hudson was on the way -- I know all about it having read the Tarheel Turtle in full -- and I hope, the blanket is also a reminder of the joy she brought to you and Ed, and indeed, to everyone who knew her during her 17 months here on Earth. She had a zest for life that we all can emulate. That zest was, and is, so inspiring because it was so pure and unpolluted by the life experiences that affect us over time. Despite the cynicism that's built up over my 35+ years, I'm trying to be more like Hudson.

  2. I know about those types of projects. I just started a needle point kneeler for our church. Daunting project, but I am determined. We will see how it goes when school starts back. Also I have worked on one of "those" projects. Cross stitched bibs for my friend Julie, the one I told you about. I held on to them and never gave them to her. I run across the photos of the baby shower that I threw for her at my house just two days before she lost the baby. You will keep wondering about those moments. I wonder about those moments, would Taylor and Grace gotten along? etc. Moments of unfinished business. I see you being brave even though it's not easy. It does not seem right to be with out her, because it's not. My love to you Mandy. Finish the blanket you will be happy you did.
    Betsy Skalet

  3. So much unfinished business indeed. I wish you'd had longer with your little daughter and had done all the things you have done, and are yet to do, with your nieces and nephews.

    I still have a cross stitch sampler I started whilst I was pregnant with the twins. It isn't finished still, nearly two years later. Somehow, I no longer have the heart. I hope you finished Hudson's little blanket.

  4. I know this post is over a year old, but I wanted to respond. I came across your blog after seeing a Facebook post about blowing bubbles for Hudson on her anniversary.

    The first knitting project I ever attempted was a baby blanket, while pregnant after three miscarriages. We were very hopeful that we would finally have the child we had been trying so desperately for, and I wanted to do something special for that baby. Sadly, we lost her as well (finding out she was a girl after having post-miscarriage testing run), and I was never able to bring myself to finish the blanket.

    Several years have passed; we now have two little girls, with one more loss between them, and I have knit many things for them. They have brought me so much joy, but I still get a little sad when I think about that first knitting project, even though I am not even sure where it ended up.

    I think it's wonderful that you set out to finish Hudson's blanket. My losses were nowhere near what yours is, and I was never brave enough to try. Sometimes the saddest things are what help to bring the most closure when we are facing an uncertain future.